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Kent State Moves Forward With Capital Improvement Plan

Posted April 25, 2011
leads Bond Issue
Kent State chemistry students (from left) Nichele Scott,
Pete Bach and Shuo Li work in a chemistry lab.

Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton announced last week that he has submitted a bond request to Chancellor Jim Petro in the amount of $210 million as part of the university's capital improvement plan to renovate academic facilities on its Kent Campus. "The bond issue will ensure that Kent State will be able to provide students now and in the future with a world-class education," Lefton says. "In addition to funding improvements in academic and student support facilities, the bond complements our local engagement in economic development."

Among the initiatives to be undertaken in the campus improvements, Lefton highlighted two that will be at the forefront of the renovation and construction. "Our first priority is the redevelopment of the campus' Science Corridor," he says. "This will include expanding educational and research opportunities, particularly in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) fields. These are the high-growth areas in the job market."

Another priority of the plan is improvements to the university's research facilities. "Research is at the heart of any great university," Lefton says. "The bond funds will help support an aggressive plan to grow the Kent State Center of Excellence in Liquid Crystals, Bio-Science and Nanotechnology. This builds on our existing leadership in technology transfer in the FlexMatters industry cluster."

Petro has submitted the bond proposal to help fund Kent State's project to the Ohio Board of Regents, which has officially posted the proposal for the public review period. "My consideration of this proposal is influenced by the documented need to address these urgent maintenance and renovation projects at Kent State University and the realistic constraints of the state budget to provide alternative funding," Petro says. "I am also mindful of the favorable impact that this project will have upon employment and the economy for Northeast Ohio. These projects will combine with traditional internal university-funded projects to produce more than $250 million of construction activity, producing an estimated 7,500 direct and indirect construction-related jobs."

Nearly 80 percent of the funds are geared to the rehabilitation, renovation, reconstruction or increased energy efficiency of existing buildings. More than 30 academic and student support facilities will be touched by this initiative.

"Essentially, this is a mission-critical plan that will help us continue to produce graduates in the numbers and disciplines required to meet the workforce demands of a thriving 21st-century economy," Lefton says. "What is unique about our plan is that we are using our borrowing power to improve academic facilities, not student unions, recreation centers or athletic complexes. We are committed to providing a high-quality environment to our students, faculty and staff."